Which to get for video editing. Stock Entry Level Mac Pro or Stock i5 3.4ghz 27 iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MrXiro, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. MrXiro, Jun 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014

    MrXiro macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #1
    I do a little bit of video production. Currently only using the i7 Mac Mini which is fine for shorts and music videos but I plan on doing a feature length film hopefully soon, and I'm pretty sure it won't cut it. I have a few TB Thunderbolt drives I'm currently working off of.

    My funds are limited, but I can use no interest financing on Amazon to lighten my load a little bit. But because I need the financing I'm stuck to Stock models only.

    Deciding between the entry level Quad Core Mac Pro and just working from the base model or the i5 3.4ghz iMac and maxing out the RAM. The difference is $1000, I know...

    The iMac seems like a great bang for the buck, but my biggest concern of the iMac is the i5 not having the virtual cores that FCPX takes advantage of when rendering out video and not having an SSD drive built in, I could run an SSD off of a ThunderBolt sled, which I had done with my previous iMac.

    I looked at a few comparisons but there aren't many people comparing a Stock iMac with the Stock Mac Pro.

    Any advice or people in the same situation out there?
     
  2. Riwam macrumors 6502a

    Riwam

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Location:
    Basel, Switzerland
    #2
    ...............
    I have no professional experience to share with you but no doubt you will get it soon from qualified tech members.
    Just a small remark about the so called "Stock" Mac Pro.
    I have heard from well known tech people checking the stock new MacPro at the time it was introduced that it is "a powerful computer if used for the kind of work it was intended".
    "Stock" just means to accept a "relatively small" built-in SSD of 256 GB.
    Still you can easily add third part RAM up to 64GB if needed, (because third part RAM is much cheaper than ordering more than the compulsory 3 x 4 GB RAM you must buy from Apple).
    And the basic GPU, the D300 can already drive several UHD displays while the companion GPU helps the CPU in tasks intended to take advantage of it.
    So "Stock" does not necessarily mean "low power" or "weak computer" :)
    No "stock" new Mac Pro is a "poor man's" choice but every model is a fantastic computer IMHO.
    I have now myself a nMP and had also hesitations and difficulties to pay for it...but do not regret it at all!:D
     
  3. MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #3
    Well by "stock" all I meant was not BTO. I've been reading up on a few comparisons that found the i7 iMacs actually performing better in tests over the base Mac Pro, which is why I was considering an iMac. I in no way mean that the Mac Pro is weak in any way. I'm just trying to find the best bang for my buck for performance. One of the "issues" I've read is that the Mac Pro does use an older chipset, socket and architecture. So pound for pound a Haswell chip can slightly out perform a Xeon just because of it's more up to date architecture.

    Thank you much for your input!
     
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #4
    It is true in a few narrow video editing cases a Haswell-based iMac can outperform a Mac Pro. Namely the iMac can use the Haswell's Quick Sync feature to export single-pass H.264 or MPEG-2 material very fast.

    That said, anyone who does significant work in FCP X will quickly notice how CPU-bound and GPU-bound many common tasks are. The more cores the better and the faster the GPU the better. Despite the Quick Sync anomaly, a Mac Pro is overall a better video editing machine -- assuming you can afford to properly equip it.

    I do professional video editing on a 2013 iMac 27 with 3.5Ghz i7, 32GB RAM, GTX-780M, 3TB Fusion Drive and an 8TB Pegasus R4 in RAID 5 (6TB formatted capacity). FCP X 10.1.1 runs quite well on it, but if I could afford it I'd definitely have an 8 or 12 core Mac Pro. Examining common video editing tasks with iStat Menus shows all 8 virtual cores are often maxed out and/or the GPU is very active. More cores and more GPU is a big help for video editing.

    In your specific case you can afford a base quad core Mac Pro, and even that is $1k more than the iMac. The CPU isn't much faster but the GPU is. It's reasonable to assume over the machine's lifetime, newer software will take additional advantage of the faster GPU.

    That said, I would be tempted to stay with the iMac and put your extra money into a Thunderbolt disk array, larger internal SSD, more memory, or an i7 CPU. There's only a $200 difference between the i5 and i7 iMac 27; the hyperthreaded i7 helps some on highly CPU-bound multithread tasks (which FCP X does a lot).
     
  5. poematik13 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2014
    #5
    The maxed out 27" iMac is a better value/bang for buck than the base model nMP. You're getting a 27" 2.5k res IPS panel which on its own is around 5-700 dollars. It might not be a color-critical panel but its certainly good enough for what you're gonna be doing. Also a facetime camera and keyboard and mouse are included. HOWEVER you wont get thunderbolt 2 ports.... :/

    The graphics card in the iMac (780 with 4GB vram) is very powerful as well, and with quicksync in the i7 cpu you can transcode web-bound video content slightly faster (source: barefeats test) than the quad xeon in the nMP. The D300 gpus in the base nMP are not very highly regarded in the editing community- most people go with the D700's. They aren't a slouch, but they are only marginally better than the 780 card, and have the same amount of vram (2x 2GB).

    I'd say just go for a maxed out iMac w/ 512GB SSD. OR, wait till the fall when the retina models come and hopefully they'll have faster nvidia chips.
     
  6. MrXiro, Jun 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014

    MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #6
    The problem with that is that the iMac doesn't come in i7 stock... only BTO. The other big reason I need to get stock is to avoid sales tax while getting 12 months of no interest financing... so unfortunately by going this route I can only pick the i5 iMac... though it would be completely insane of me... maybe I should consider the 6-Core Mac Pro... but the thought of that much money in one shot makes me shudder.
     
  7. poematik13 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2014
    #7
    BH has different configurations sold directly- you should check with them. I'm sure they have some kind of financing program.

    The stock 6 core d500 config from Apple is a great machine..only 3699 with the student discount ;)
     
  8. pbmagnet4 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    #8
    I have the BTO nMP and was going through what you are going through. Before I was editing on a 2012 i7 13in MBP. Although the BTO nMP is 'only' quad-core, it is a significant jump from what I was using. I chose the nMP over the iMac option as I have Thunderbolt components already setup. I use the 27in Thunderbolt monitor and it is great for what I need to use it for.

    The big push for me was that the nMP has multi-monitor 4K support. Even though I am not at the point where I can shoot 4K, it is good to know that this computer can handle what I could potentially throw at it. Additionally, this machine is highly expandable. There is always the option to upgrade the processor, SSD, and (possibly) the graphics card down the line. I intend on having this machine for at least 4-6 years. Where as, with an iMac, I would plan on having it no longer than 3.

    Anyways, you could pick any of those options and would be more than satisfied. However, between the BTO nMP and the i5 iMac I would have to go with the nMP>
     
  9. MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #9
    The nMP needs to be stock as well... I'm thinking more and more that I should get the 6 core... Just an overall better deal and I'd probably stick with it for the next 6+ years.
     
  10. pragmatous macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    #10
    My suggestion is to find out what the recommended specs are for all the software you use. Take the highest spec recommendation and bump it up by one notch.





    ----------

    You can upgrade the processor just so you know. you cannot upgrade the video cards though. The RAM you can also upgrade.

    Get the minimum and buy the RAM from amazon.com or newegg.com. It's way cheaper.

    I don't know what your comfort level is with upgrading computers but you can save a boat load of money if you can get the cheap base system and then just upgrade the processor and RAM afterwords. Get the max video card because that cannot be upgraded. Done.

    It's up to you but yes you should get the 6-core. Get the 8-core if you choose my method.

    /shrug

     
  11. Riwam macrumors 6502a

    Riwam

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Location:
    Basel, Switzerland
    #12
    .............
    The people "upgrading" their CPU spend quite a lot of money in doing so.
    Then they risk the Apple coverage if one day needed.
    As for the D700 it is IMHO an overkill for the great majority of users and quite expensive as well.
    If Apple had truly believed that most users will sooner or later need twice 6 GB of dedicated Video RAM (!), I don't think they had even thought to offer the D300 pair with twice 2 GB RAM at all!
    That the GPU will most probably not be upgradable does not necessarily mean that people are forced to buy now the quite expensive D700 GPU pair just for that reason.
    A pair of D300 will still serve well the great majority of buyers IMHO unless very, very GPU demanding tasks are performed, which should be the case with a small minority of users of the nMP.
    To buy much more than needed and spend a lot of money just for fear of not being able to replace it one day, seems to me a very wrong way to buy things. :eek:
     
  12. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 25, 2014
    #13
    IMO since you plan to do a feature length film "hopefully soon" I would continue using the Mac Mini until such time as you're ready to do the feature length film and have determined it's not suitable for your needs.

    Given your limited funds and the fact you're not doing this to generate income I would avoid the nMP. Not that the nMP is a bad choice but rather it may be overkill for a hobbyist on a limited budget. An iMac would make more sense until such time as you've determined you're doing sufficient editing and it would be slowing you down. Since Macs hold their value fairly well you could buy an iMac and, if you determine it's holding you back, resell it and buy the nMP. At that time there might even be some available on the second hand market (which might not be an option since you're looking at zero percent financing).

    And finally Apple offers 6, 12, and 18 months zero percent financing (term depends on purchase price).
     
  13. MrXiro, Jun 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014

    MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #14
    Well this will be my FCP X workstation over anything else.

    My logic for going 6-core is the extra 1000 gets me 2 more cores (the extra 4gb of RAM is negligible and most importantly the D500 graphics cards over the D300. An equivalent GPU is $1300 each and X2 will be $2600 while I can find a 6-core Xeon 3.5 for around $650 if I wanted to make those upgrades later. Seems like the higher price now would be less of a bite in the ass later... maybe I'm going about this all wrong.

    ----------

    Well I'm working on transitioning it into my full time business, I have done a few gigs where it has generated income but not the amount to sustaining me financially. I currently do work a day job in TV though not in any production capacity any more.

    I'm also looking to avoid tax which is why I was looking through Amazon over Apple. The savings of buying a nMP from specifically DataVision Computers is over $300 along with my Amazon giving me 12 months of no interest.

    I'm not in the purchase stage as of yet, more in the research. I'll probably be making this purchase closer to the end of the year... hopefully finding some holiday deals. But this is a decision I am taking my time on... I'll still be using my Mac Mini for the smaller projects until then.

    ----------

    Just checked B&H. The only financing they offer is through Bill Me Later at 6 Months... which while not bad is still a hefty sum. I did find a BTO i7 there that is perfect! $2399 and not tax and I get the bonus of Fusion.

    Still doing more consideration. But an iMac might be the better solution... just need to find a way for it to be financed better. 2399/6 is still $400 a month. which is a little more than I want to pay currently.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  14. Riwam macrumors 6502a

    Riwam

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Location:
    Basel, Switzerland
    #15
    .............
    May I make you aware that Apple offers a special price for students, teachers and many other jobs related to education, high schools, universities, etc.
    To find among your acquaintances or friends a student or someone related in some way to any university or high school would allow you to save some hundreds in a nMP with no trouble at all.
    Apple may request a proof of it, so it must be true, but in my experience they seldom do it and cause neither you nor the student/teacher/educational employee helping you any trouble at all.
    The computer order might be in the name of that person but the delivery still be to you.
    Even parents of students qualify for such discounts which can be applied yearly and include a portable, a stationary computer and 2 displays per academic year.
    It is quite possible that the company selling you the nMP might accept to give you (actually to the qualified person in whose name you order) that educational discount without changing their financing conditions, since ultimately it is Apple who gives them the educational discount so they do not lose anything.
    Just something to consider when you are ready to jump into it. :)
     
  15. HuntingPudel macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    California
    #16
    I'm in California and Amazon applies sales tax to my orders. Not sure why they would be applying it to my orders and not to yours. Just FYI, your mileage may vary.
     
  16. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #17
    I'm a film professional and recently upgraded from my '08 MP to the base model nMP (D300). I've cut footage on iMacs, MBP's and just about everything else and in my experience the drives are almost always the bottleneck. If funds are an issue get the iMac (benchmarks seem pretty close between a high spec iMac and low spec nMP) and use your monitor money on a good TB2 SSD drive option.

    Even my D300 nMP charges through full res 4.5k footage all day long, and only chokes when my media server does (WD MyCloud EX4 12TB). Off of a TB scratch disk or the internal SSD it plays through 4k DPX sequences like butter. I haven't found a situation where the higher spec power is needed in the video world - VFX guys I know say they'd need it for high poly 3d renderings and such. But I don't do that!

    FCP7, Adobe CS, Davinci Resolve, NukeX are all more than happy with the power at hand.
     
  17. MrXiro, Jun 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014

    MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #18
    It only applies to items sold BY Amazon or sellers located in California (sometimes). I'd be buying from an East coast company selling on Amazon called DataVision Computer Photo. I bought a great 3TB HDD among other stuff from them before. Free shipping and Tax Free to CA. :)

    ----------

    I do my video off of my 3TB Thunderbolt Seagate drive. It is on a swappable TB dock so I can just get more of the Seagate drives to run off of the dock when needed. It's a great solution and get some killer speed. I also have a Thunderbolt 2.5 sled made by Seagate that I can hot swap SSD drives off of... I'm actually pretty set for some TB editing action just need to get more jobs.

    Glad to hear that the lower end model is good enough for even 4K needs! I'll put it back into consideration... I was really worried that the Quad-core wouldn't be enough. How much RAM do you have in your nMP? Since there is an open slot left should I put a 4GB stick in there or jam the biggest one I can afford?
     
  18. Kingsly, Jun 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014

    Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #19
    Sounds like your storage is set! SSD is definitely the way to go if you're editing anything over 1080. Oddly, even my raid 0+1 server can supply 4k .r3d files over gigabit ethernet pretty reliably, but when I jump into 16bit DPX sequences (@ only 1080!) is when it really chokes. Today I'm color correcting a commercial we shot and it's all come back from our vfx artist as DPX - so I'm using the internal as a scratch drive as the server was topping out at around 8fps. :eek:

    The internal plays back without a hiccup! :D

    I just had this conversation with my friend who's doing the vfx. He's super into this stuff and knows things that are way over my head (he's worked on some of the biggest blockbusters from the last few years). Said the D300's were more than enough for video work and even advised that dropping the cash on a CTO with D500's was a waste for what I do.
    My thought is down the line we can always hook up to a external PCI chassis and cram the biggest baddest card we can find in it.

    In certain situations the Nvidia card in an iMac might even outperform the dual D300's. Any software that's optimized for CUDA (Nuke, AE, PR, etc) will be unable to use the spare D300 as a processing core, whereas they'll love that Nvidia card. FCPX is of course optimized to take advantage of the Open CL engines in the nMP, but until the software companies catch up it stands (mostly) alone.

    Mine came with the stock 12gb. We also discussed ram and came to the conclusion that unless I'm previewing 3d models with a gazillion polys it wasn't going to make a noticeable difference. I might stick another 4gb stick in the open slot because I can, but I wouldn't expect it to be a life changing experience.

    What kind of footage do you tend to encounter?
     
  19. pragmatous macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    #20
    That is true I don't know if it voids the warranty or not. So maybe don't do that. heh.

    Here's what I'm doing and maybe the OP can chime in.

    Me personally I'm waiting for haswell-ep refresh. I am 95% certain that the mac pro refresh is coming in September. Other products with the haswell-ep CPU are shipping in September so.

    I'm not in a huge need right now for a mac pro. The majority of stuff I'm doing is preliminary stuff like reading, typing, and learning. By september though I'm going to want something beefier. I want to develop applications on iOS.

    With that said I'm going to go 8-core and 128GB of RAM. You may think that'll be really expensive but it won't be. It'll be the same price as the 2nd tier now.


     
  20. Imaginator macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2014
    Location:
    The Cosmos
    #21
    This is all I needed to know. I have done tons of editing on my 3.4Ghz i7 iMac. It's my "Assistant Editor" Mac as it's more than capable for 80% of what I do. I use my Mac Po (with the 27" iMac as a display) for the heavy lifting in AE, Cinema 4D, etc.

    Get the iMac, and get a refurbed i7 if you can swing it. You'll save hundreds and end up with a wicked machine that can edit plenty.
     
  21. MrXiro thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #22
    I've only been working with 1080p. But I'd like to be prepared for if and when I have to work with 4K... especially since the price on 4K cameras dropping as fast as they have over the last 4 years... it's only a matter of time before you can pick up a 4K full frame camera for under $1000. But I currently shoot off of a Sony DSLR and a NEX-VG30. Not the standard (Canon) equipment but I've been able to pull some great Image Quality off of those guys.
     
  22. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 25, 2014
    #23
    My thought is the iMac should be more than sufficient for your needs until such time as you're regularly doing work which would require the additional capabilities of the nMP. You're just entering this line of work so start with the basics and work your way up when you need to. By that time more capable systems might be available at the same price and you can always sell your existing stuff.
     
  23. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #24
    I have to agree here. My old 3,1 MP (with an OLD graphics card) was also handling 4k footage alright and it's quite a bit slower than the current gen iMacs. The only reason I got that MP then was because I had a crazy employee discount, and the only reason I have this nMP now is because our current job budgeted for it.

    If you're keen on investing, I'd council to invest in something that has lasting power: if it's post get an fxPhd or Lynda subscription and learn the c**p out of the software and workflows and if it's shooting get some solid vintage lenses and shoot all day every day until you're the best around.

    When I was just starting out I invested a ton into gear - and ended up with a bunch of gear and overpowered computers I wasn't any good at using. I still feel that way - even this job I'm working on now I feel like I'm just getting the hang of [proper] color correction and exposure techniques.

    :)
     

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